happy fun-day sunday, sweet friends. The past few weeks have been a tad bit crazy what with lotsa fun holidays -- Valentine's Day, President's Day, Leap Day, all the favorites -- and silly adventures with people I love more than I could ever begin to say. And soooo many more memories to come I might add, especially with the senior-year-spring-semester-bucket-list! As I frequently say, college is such a wonderful season of life, and it definitely forces you to grow up quite a bit -- if you allow that process to take place. Toward the end, however, lemme tellya, it seems like it's a whirlwind what with so many decisions to make for the future. At which point you realize, holy crappppp, Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore.
The real world is just around the corner, and something tells me the real world doesn't really look like The Real World we watched on MTV back in the day. (And PRAISE THE LORD for that, I might add.) While it may be full of drama and crazies, it's also full of wandering roads, seemingly life-altering decisions, love, tears, joy, sadness, memories, people, weddings, families, babies, adventures, bills, jobs, thunderstorms, surprises, puppies, kittens, fresh flowers, and more.
Although I'm gonna be honest, while there are many aspects of growing up, I think one of the most overwhelming parts of the real world ahead is the whole "seemingly life-altering decisions" part.
We've been in training the past twenty-some-odd years for these very decisions, and for some reason we think that if we make the wrong ones, life as we know it will come crumbling down faster than the walls at Jericho. So we put all of this pressure on ourselves to know what we want to do with the rest of our lives because for some reason we think we have to have it all figured out. We have to know all the roads to take and exactly where to make each turn -- and a bright and charming picnic packed for every rest stop.
Not only that, but for many of us, we freak out because not only do we not know what WE WANT to do with our lives, we don't know what the Lord wants for our lives. So our blood-pressure rises a bit, our stomachs turn in knots, and we try to envision ourselves in the upcoming years of our lives. We pray. We seek wise counsel. We read Scripture. We try our best to examine our hearts and hope that somehow in all the prayer and introspection and wisdom being spoken into our lives, we'll figure it out.
Then we will make the right decision. We'll find well-paying, enjoyable jobs, get married, start a family, and hopefully if we're wise and careful, we'll avoid almost any and all pain possible and be incredibly comfortable and life happily ever after all the days our lives.
Because after all, that's why we freak out, right?
We want to avoid the pain of making the wrong decision.
Or we are afraid that if we choose incorrectly, we'll be punished and end up in the belly of a whale just like Jonah in the middle of a tumultuous sea storm.
But in our feeble attempt to avoid pain and conflict and fear and all the seemingly icky emotions that rock the boat, we fail to rest and rely on the reality of who God is, who Jesus is, who the Holy Spirit is, and who we are in relation to the triune God we serve.
Jesus walked into pain. With every step He took and word He spoke, He knew the destiny that lay before Him. Just before it all went down, He was praying and sweating blood and said, "Lord, if there is any way you can take this cup of suffering away from me, please do it. But above all, your will be done." Jesus knew that He would meet a seemingly serious match upon the cross (death) but that He would overcome three days later, rising from the grave.
I listened to an incredible sermon by my one of my all-time-favorites Tim Keller the other day, entitled Praying Our Fears. Listen up yall because the words I'm about to say in depiction of it will no where near do his sermon justice. But what I walked away from it having learned was that Jesus is the SHIELD AROUND US. Back in the day, shields that literally went around individuals were used in battles in which armies were specifically venturing into danger. So when armies were getting ready to summit huge castle walls in attempt to take over the area, they'd use these shields that went all the way around their bodies. And in Psalm 3, David tells us that the Lord is the shield around us.
We're going to walk into danger.
We're in the midst of it.
We live in a world where the enemy is alive and working to KILL, STEAL, and DESTROY. We have an enemy. He's not inactive or immobile. He knows our weaknesses. He knows what causes us to stumble. He knows our doubts and pains and wants to use those to prove to us that the Lord doesn't really love us, that He doesn't really care, that He's too far removed from our lives in the heavens somewhere to really understand what's going on.
The Lord looks at us lovingly, with all compassion, all grace, all mercy and says...
I am the lion that goes before you and behind you.
I am the shield around you.
I am your healer.
your best friend
I go before you always and make a way.
I am with you until the very end of the age.
You are my children.
If your earthly fathers know how to give you good gifts, how much MORE can I give to you?
I who created the heavens and the earth know everything about you.
I know all of your sins, all of your weaknesses, all of your fears, your failures.
And I love you no matter what.
I love you no matter what.
You are all fair, my love; there is no flaw in you.
My power is made perfect in your weakness.
I make all things new.
Nothing will ever separate you from me.
No one can ever snatch you out of my hands.
I hold your VERY life in my hands.
I'm not going anywhere.
I am ALIVE and PRESENT.
I have given you everything you need.
I am all you need.
Your strength will come in settling down in complete dependence on me.
I love you.
Ultimately no matter where we go, no matter WHERE he calls us, no matter WHAT we walk through, no matter who comes in and out of our lives, the truth of Jesus ALWAYS REMAINS. Jesus is ALIVE. He is LIVING and WORKING. Nothing catches him by surprise. He is FOR US IN ALL THINGS. We never have to be afraid of punishment or of the future or relationships or making ourselves better....
We simply have to surrender and allow him to work
TRUST that HE IS WORKING that HIS LOVE COVERS ALL THINGS
THAT WE ARE FORGIVEN
of all things
No sin is too big for the Lord to forgive.
No miracle is too big for Him to work.
No hurt too deep for Him to HEAL.
No place too far for the Lord to take us or bring us back from.
Maybe you're a prostitute who has slept with too many men to count. Maybe you're a man who has been married for 50 years and you're gay or you've had countless affairs with numerous women. Maybe you're a murderer or you CONSTANTLY SEEK approval of others. Maybe you're a slave to addiction or your body image.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, you are forgiven.
You are loved.
Your VALUE, your WORTH, your PURPOSE is found in Christ.
He REDEEMS ALL THINGS.
HE IS THE WAY to PEACE to LIFE to LOVE to FORGIVENESS to HEALING to WHOLENESS to FREEDOM.
We can walk in confidence, with joy and hope for the future, in resting in who JESUS is and who we are in Him... resting in forgiveness forever... grace forever... love forever... That He looks us in the eyes every morning and says, "Believe me. Believe me when I tell you how much I love you. I know you're afraid. But I AM BIGGER. I go before you and behind you. Even when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, it's merely a shadow. Because remember, as my child, you never really die. You live forever in paradise with me."
Praise the Lord. Glory to God in the HIGHEST -- always and forever.
All my love!